The passing of my mom will be the first experience with death that my children will have. They have lost elderly aunts, and it was sad for them, but this going to be very different for them. My mom saw them nearly every single day. Both of my boys have an incredibly close relationship with her. My boys are old enough to understand what is going on and that there is a cycle to life – that everything is born, lives, and dies.
Although my mom has not been well for many years, this was very sudden. We had to give the boys an opportunity to be a part of the family grieving and to have the chance to say “goodbye.” Today we brought them to the ICU. No children are allowed but they made an exception in this case. My sister brought her daughter Gabi as well. My oldest son, visited her earlier in the week so he decided to wait for the younger kids to say goodbye. Drew and Gabi went in with Dave, my sister and me. At first Drew would only look through the glass doors. He was nervous. I told him that he did not have to go in, but he finally came in. He would not stand close to the bed. Neither did Gabi. We had prepared them for how she would look with all of the machines going in and out of her. Drew asked me if he could say goodbye to her without Gabi and Kathi in the room. We asked them if they wanted time first but Gabi was sad and ready to leave. After they left, Drew went right up to her, put his head down on her and sobbed. He told her how much he loved her and how much he was going to miss her. I had held it together this whole time until that moment. Dave and I both could not help but cry. It was such a sweet and innocent moment. I had doubted myself all day, wondering if I should have let him go up and see her but seeing him with her, and talking to her is something that he will remember and hopefully cherish forever.
DJ had a chance to say goodbye, but we let him have his privacy.
My family and I have been discussing all week on how we are going to tell my own grandma. She is 97 years old and in great health. Other than some walking and hearing problems, she is doing great. She is my dad’s mom, but she and my mom have been best friends since my parents got married 47 years ago. She and my mom have a unique relationship. There are no nightmare mother-in-law stories for her. My dad’s biggest fear is that seeing my mom like this will have such a negative affect on her, it could send her into a downward spiral. Today we spoke with hospice and they told us that we really should let my grandma make the decision on whether or not she wants to say goodbye. My sister and dad took a few photos of her that we could show her.
This evening, my father, brothers, sister, sister-in-law and cousin all met at my grandma’s house for dinner. We told her all about mom and showed her the pictures. She made the choice not to go there. She wants to remember my mom they way she was. I am happy with her choice. Her memories of my mom will keep her going. She is a strong woman and the head of a very big, loving family. Together we will all get through this.
Tomorrow will be the most difficult day of all of our lives. I am glad that we got the chance to say goodbye and tell her how much we love her. Turning of life support will not be easy, but knowing that she can be at peace and finally breathe on her own is giving me comfort.